Register to reply

A Future Energy Alternative?

by T.O.E Dream
Tags: alternative, energy, future
Share this thread:
T.O.E Dream
#1
Nov1-09, 06:28 PM
P: 218
Do you think that in the future we'll be able to create a device that can create energy just like how our bodies or any other living things do. Such as eating, drinking, and breathing.

If not, then why?

Sorry, if this is against the forum rules but I would really just like to know if this might be practical.
Phys.Org News Partner Physics news on Phys.org
Physical constant is constant even in strong gravitational fields
Physicists provide new insights into the world of quantum materials
Nuclear spins control current in plastic LED: Step toward quantum computing, spintronic memory, better displays
Pengwuino
#2
Nov1-09, 06:32 PM
PF Gold
Pengwuino's Avatar
P: 7,120
I would say a boiler does exactly that. It eats fuel, drinks water, and breathes air for combustion .
russ_watters
#3
Nov1-09, 08:14 PM
Mentor
P: 22,316
Our consumption of food is essentially a combustion process like most of our energy sources - it's just how that energy is harnessed that is different.

FredGarvin
#4
Nov1-09, 09:03 PM
Sci Advisor
FredGarvin's Avatar
P: 5,095
A Future Energy Alternative?

Our bodies don't create energy. They convert it from one form to another and there are losses because of those conversions just like in any other conversion process.
Phrak
#5
Nov1-09, 09:18 PM
P: 4,512
Quote Quote by T.O.E Dream View Post
Do you think that in the future we'll be able to create a device that can create energy just like how our bodies or any other living things do. Such as eating, drinking, and breathing.
I don't get it. There are plenty of those around already. Horse, donkey, ox,...
sganesh88
#6
Nov1-09, 09:45 PM
P: 288
I wonder whether we could create a bio-engine that just 'eats up' any organic matter we put in-fruits,rice, wheat,meat whatever; produce heat energy just like any living entity and then the heat should be converted to electricity and stored in a cell. It should be sort of a compact box that could be placed behind the vehicle. When we stop by the side of the highway to get ourselves a drink, we need to share some with our Bio-E and get miles in return..
The bio gas used now just makes use of the by product gases i think. In this case, the cell clump should work exclusively to provide energy to us. Any ideas to make this possible?
T.O.E Dream
#7
Nov2-09, 06:00 AM
P: 218
Quote Quote by sganesh88 View Post
I wonder whether we could create a bio-engine that just 'eats up' any organic matter we put in-fruits,rice, wheat,meat whatever; produce heat energy just like any living entity and then the heat should be converted to electricity and stored in a cell. It should be sort of a compact box that could be placed behind the vehicle. When we stop by the side of the highway to get ourselves a drink, we need to share some with our Bio-E and get miles in return..
The bio gas used now just makes use of the by product gases i think. In this case, the cell clump should work exclusively to provide energy to us. Any ideas to make this possible?
This is what I was trying to get at.
fatra2
#8
Nov2-09, 06:17 AM
P: 477
Hi there,

I don't think I understand the question that well. You want to have a machine where we fill with fuel, and it would transform the energy stored in it to do stuff. Isn't that what a car precisely does: you fill your car with gas, it converts the energy into machanical motion and makes the car go vroum vroum.

Cheers
Molydood
#9
Nov2-09, 06:22 AM
P: 117
After the clarification it seems that a big part of the question is to do with the diversity of the fuel we can use for our artificial engines? As people have already said, we have plenty of artificial devices that do pretty much what our bodies do, they are just not as complete a process (waste, maintenance etc) or as diverse with the fuel they need.

As an example, a solar panel is wonderfully simple in that it takes light and produces electricity, but it doesn't do much else.
Likewise, a car takes petrol and produces kinetic energy, but doesn't do much else.

A human body can take fuel from a lot of different 'unrefined' sources yet manages to produce a consistent output and manage at the same time things like waste and 'engine' maintenance. Perhaps the biggest difference is the intelligence it uses with which it seek out the fuel, deal with waste and generally just get on with things and be self sufficient, which machines currently dont do.

In many ways, machines are like babies in that:
-they need refined fuel
-they need it giving to them
-they also need somebody to deal with the waste!

It's just a shame that machines don't grow up to become more diverse and self sufficient like humans do....... :-)
Bob S
#10
Nov2-09, 09:38 AM
P: 4,663
Quote Quote by T.O.E Dream View Post
Do you think that in the future we'll be able to create a device that can create energy just like how our bodies or any other living things do. Such as eating, drinking, and breathing..
The photosynthesis process for converting sunlight to food energy is very inefficient, susceptible to adverse weather events, and uses roughy 70% of fresh water consumption. Most of our food comes from C3 (Calvin cycle) plants (grains, etc) and is ~0.1% efficient in energy conversion efficiency. C3 photosynthesis stops at temperatures over 40 deg C. C4 plants (maize, sugarcane) are ~0.2% efficient. Compare to solar photovoltaic, which is ~20% efficient, and requires very little water.
Bob S
russ_watters
#11
Nov2-09, 03:56 PM
Mentor
P: 22,316
Quote Quote by sganesh88 View Post
I wonder whether we could create a bio-engine that just 'eats up' any organic matter we put in-fruits,rice, wheat,meat whatever; produce heat energy just like any living entity and then the heat should be converted to electricity and stored in a cell. It should be sort of a compact box that could be placed behind the vehicle. When we stop by the side of the highway to get ourselves a drink, we need to share some with our Bio-E and get miles in return..
The bio gas used now just makes use of the by product gases i think. In this case, the cell clump should work exclusively to provide energy to us. Any ideas to make this possible?
I suppose we could do that now - you can burn food and other waste and get energy from it. Trash incinerators do it and like I said, that's basically how our bodies get energy from food. But food makes a rediculously poor fuel. Just think about how much waste our bodies produce and how little energy we get out of the food we eat! The human body generates about 150 watts or half a megajoule per hour - equivalent to about 11 grams of gasoline.
T.O.E Dream
#12
Nov2-09, 04:42 PM
P: 218
preety much what I'm saying is that it can use organic material and turn it into energy?
Bob S
#13
Nov2-09, 05:01 PM
P: 4,663
Quote Quote by T.O.E Dream View Post
preety much what I'm saying is that it can use organic material and turn it into energy?
I beleive that organic matter contains about 5000 to 7500 Btu per pound, depending on its source. See biomass conversion numbers near the bottom in
http://bioenergy.ornl.gov/papers/misc/energy_conv.html
I believe that public utilities can produce 1 kW-hour electricity from 10,000 to 12,000 Btu. Traditional coal-fired uttilities are ~34% efficient (10,000 Btu/kW-hr).
Bob S
russ_watters
#14
Nov2-09, 06:05 PM
Mentor
P: 22,316
Quote Quote by T.O.E Dream View Post
preety much what I'm saying is that it can use organic material and turn it into energy?
Yes. What I'm saying is that whether it is oil or taco salad, the energy is the same: hydrocarbons. Oil is "organic material". Its just that oil has the energy stored much more efficiently than a taco salad does.
T.O.E Dream
#15
Nov2-09, 06:37 PM
P: 218
But would taco salad be more environment friendly?

But imagine if we can use something such as water as our energy supply. Our if we can harness chlorophyll and use it for energy. Can this one day be possible?
russ_watters
#16
Nov2-09, 06:54 PM
Mentor
P: 22,316
Quote Quote by T.O.E Dream View Post
But would taco salad be more environment friendly?
No, it is much, much worse. Probably an order of magnitude more pollution (depending on how you measure) for the same energy output.
But imagine if we can use something such as water as our energy supply.
Water is not fuel, it is ash. It's the primary waste product of proper combustion.
Our if we can harness chlorophyll and use it for energy. Can this one day be possible?
Again, we already do. That's what trees and oil are!

Or if you mean harness it directly - same answer as above: it is a bad idea because it is very inefficient and the energy density is very low.
Phrak
#17
Nov2-09, 07:41 PM
P: 4,512
It might be useful to compare the energy comsumption of people and automobiles.

One gallon of gasoline contains 125,000 BTU.

People burn about 500 BTU per hour sitting in a car.

Let's say we have a fuel efficient means of transportation that gets 50 mpg and we drive for 50 miles at 50 mph. The energy cost is 125,000 BTU.

The car requires 2,500 times as much energy. That's a lot of kibbles and bits.
sganesh88
#18
Nov3-09, 01:27 AM
P: 288
People burn about 500 BTU per hour sitting in a car.
OK. Let's not get it from the humans. How about using the relevant cells and techniques of a particular animal that needs to do eat less, excrete less but exert more- say a cheetah or something else like that. Life should have found out a clever way for that animal. We need to just use it.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Apparently, Higgs bosons created in an alternative future can alter the present. High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics 14
Radioactive energy as an alternative energy source? General Physics 7
Alternative Energy Sources General Discussion 24
Alternative Energy General Discussion 5
Alternative energy sources Biology 28